Youth court statistics, 2014/2015
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There were nearly 33,000 cases completed in youth courts in Canada in 2014/2015, about 19% fewer cases than in the previous year. The number of completed cases in youth courts was the lowest since these data were first collected more than two decades ago. A declining trend was also observed in the rate of youth charged by police over the last decade.
The number of completed cases in youth court decreased in all provinces and territories, except Nova Scotia (+2%). The Northwest Territories (-40%) recorded the largest year-over-year decline in completed youth court cases, followed by Newfoundland and Labrador (-29%) and Alberta (-29%).
In 2014/2015, the most often heard cases in youth court were theft (11%), common assault (8%), breaking and entering (8%), failure to comply with an order (7%), and mischief (6%).
Almost all types of completed cases in youth court decreased from 2013/2014 to 2014/2015. Cases involving breach of probation (-31%), disturbing the peace (-29%) and other crimes against persons (-25%) posted the largest declines.
Only cases involving prostitution (+45%; five additional cases) and attempted murder (+10%; two additional cases) recorded year-over-year increases from 2013/2014 to 2014/2015.
Youth aged 16 or 17 years old continued to constitute the largest proportion of accused youth, representing 62% of cases completed in youth court. Overall, males represented over three-quarters (77%) of youth court accused.
In 2014/2015, 57% of cases completed in youth court resulted in a guilty finding, down from a high of about two-thirds in the 1990s. Another 41% of completed cases were stayed or withdrawn, about 1% of cases were acquitted, and less than 1% received another type of decision.
A custodial sentence was imposed in about one in seven (15%) guilty youth court cases, either on its own or in combination with another type of sentence. Overall, the median length of custodial sentences was 40 days. Slightly less than half of all custody sentences were one month or less (44%). Another 27% of custody sentences were one to three months in length, and the remaining 29% were longer than three months.
Probation was the most common type of sentence imposed in youth court cases, representing 57% of all guilty cases. The median length of probation for all case types was close to a year (360 days). A community service order (25%) was the second most common type of sentence imposed in youth court cases.
The median length of time taken to complete a youth court case was 120 days, or about four months, the same as in 2013/2014.
A flow chart summarizing the key indicators of completed cases in the youth court system in 2014/2015 can be found in the Juristat article published today.
Note to readers
Data presented in this article are drawn from the youth portion of the Integrated Criminal Court Survey and cover people who were aged 12 to 17 years at the time of the offence.
Youth court cases that involve more than one charge are represented by the most serious offence.
A completed case is defined as a case whose one or more charges against an accused person or company were processed by the courts at the same time and received a final decision.
The Juristat article "Youth court statistics in Canada, 2014/2015" (85-002-X), is now available. From the Browse by key resource module of our website under Publications, choose All subjects, then Crime and justice, and Juristat.
Additional data are available upon request.
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